Steph Curry right in 'betting' Warriors' Klay Thompson finds shot

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Steph right in 'betting' Klay finds his shot again soon originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Klay Thompson gave us his latest classic quote Tuesday night after the Warriors beat the Detroit Pistons, saying "I don't care if I miss 100 shots in a row. I'm never going to stop shooting the ball. I love it too much and I work too hard."

At times Thursday night in the Warriors' 121-117 overtime loss to the depleted Indiana Pacers, it felt like Thompson really might test that theory. Steph Curry had the perfect response every time Klay's aim was off.

"I think he had that quote last game, I kept telling him, 'A hundred and one. You shoot 100 shots, you miss it, once 101 is going in,' " Curry said. "I'm going to keep telling him that message, because it's going to come."

Thompson scored 12 points in the loss while playing a season-high 23 minutes. It wasn't his worst shooting night since making his return, but it was his worst at what he usually is so great at. Klay missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, making this his first game where he has failed to make a 3-pointer through his first six games this season.

Actually, this was the first time that Thompson's night didn't end with at least one 3-pointer since March 23, 2019, in a game where he scored only eight points and was a minus-39 in a 35-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He was on a 14-game regular-season streak of making at least one 3-pointer. If you include the playoffs, he was on a 35-game streak of doing such.

Through his first six games back after missing the previous two and a half seasons, Thompson now is shooting only 37.2 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from deep. Those obviously both would be career lows. Coach Steve Kerr isn't concerned, and continued to preach patience with Klay's shot.

"Just got to give it time," Kerr said. "We're trying to get him back in a groove, so we'll look at the tape and we'll try to figure out what we can do to help, but he's struggling right now."

Kerr already said that Thompson won't play Friday night against the Houston Rockets on the second game of a back-to-back. But if Steph was a betting man, he'd put his money on Thompson's shooting struggles coming to an end real soon. Maybe even Sunday against the Utah Jazz.

"Everything he's gone through is hard, for two and a half years," Curry said. "I'm betting on him to be able to figure it out over time. There's no doubt that -- well, I know him and his mindset, the confidence he has in himself."

All this is new for Thompson. Not just his teammates outside of Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney. Not just how different the league looks. It's his usage, his routine, everything that he was used to for so long as a player.

That has all changed, at least for now.

He's not playing both games of a back-to-back in the immediate future. The Warriors slowly are ramping up Thompson's minutes, first giving him just under 20 minutes in his debut and now giving him just over 23 against Indiana. When he last was healthy, he averaged 34 minutes per game in the 2018-19 season. It was his third straight year averaging at least 34 minutes per game, and he averaged 33.1 minutes per game his first eight years for Golden State.

With a half-dozen games to his name this season, Thompson now is averaging 21.3 minutes per game. His previous career low was 24.4 minutes as a rookie. Yes, he still is in the starting lineup but he's playing short stints and sitting on the bench for long periods of time.

That isn't easy, especially for a shooter trying to find his stroke and get a rhythm after so much time off.

"Everything he's gone through, two and half years off, the minutes restriction, not really being able to find a flow -- it's tough," Curry said. "But you have to keep the big-picture mindset of everything he's going through.

"Obviously we're rockin' with him, and every shot he takes we think it's going in. Nothing changes on that."

Nor should it. Kerr, Curry and the rest of the Warriors are putting their trust in Thompson, and he has earned every ounce of that.

The hardest part is over for Klay. This is a new, frustrating element that he isn't used to. He also already has proven he can overcome damn near anything.

RELATED: Kerr takes blame for Warriors' worst loss of season to Pacers

Klay still is the same player who was the perfect example of consistency before his career was paused by two devastating injuries. He had made five straight All-Star teams, averaging at least 20 points per game in all five of those seasons. He had never shot under 40 percent from 3-point range, and he had missed only 25 games combined in the regular season. In the postseason, he played in 123 games and missed just one.

All game long, there's Klay riding the stationary bike on the sidelines to keep his legs loose when he isn't in. And all game long, the Warriors are waiting for him to catch fire from beyond the arc.

His Splash Brother is betting on him. So should you.

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